Monday, 15 April 2019

Lofoten 2019 week 2

Well that is a wrap on spring number 7 up in the fantastic Lofoten islands, and what a fortnight it has been - 14 days out of 14 skied - a new record for me in terms of the weather!

Having waved goodbye to team 1 on Sunday morning team 2 arrived early afternoon and with blue skies in full effect were fully psyched to get straight out touring, so we headed out for a quick lap on Varden, while waiting for our 6th team member to arrive:

With the forecast contiuing to hold good and the team now complete we headed to one of the many 'Breitind's for a great circuit taking in 3 different bowls and valleys, with a final exciting gully then combat ski back down to the road:

The next day we set our sights on Langstrandstind - a mighty peak that sits opposite Geitgaljern. With ice bulges in the middle of the access slopes this needs a good fill of snow and stable conditions to be viable, and had eluded us so far in previous years. With a positive report from my friend Kristin who had been up there a few days previously we set off with high hopes, and were rewarded with great snow up high and spectacular views to the mighty Rulten and neighbouring peaks and fjords:

On the Wednesday I took the gamble of heading West to a slope I have looked at for 7 years and never felt that conditions were right. Today was THE day, with good cold snow up high, quickly turning into perfect spring snow lower down. A fine exposed 'line in the sky'!
To top it all off on the way up we were treated to the sight of a sea eagle swooping at a fox (must have been near its nest?), and on the walk out a snow-white weasel was playing in the tussocks of grass next to us for a good 5 minutes:

The following day, with another team heading for my primary objective we decided on a magical mystery tour out to the far West. With a couple of initial objectives not working out we moved on to plan C and an alternative start to a peak we had skied a few years back - this time we not only made the summit but also had great views (unlike our previous visit!):

The weather was finally due to break, so it was time to look for good objectives for bad visibility. Again my plan A option (as per the previous day) was thwarted, this time by the TGR crew who are currently on Lofoten filming with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ian McIntosh and Christina Lusti. Again we moved on to a plan B, and once again plan B revealed itself to be a fine option, with a great couloir line tucked away in a hidden valley:

For our last day we headed to one of Lofoten's most eye-catching couloir lines - again this one has been in my 'little black book' for quite a few years and it was nice to stand on top of the peak and then ski the couloir in great cold snow - with the bowl below giving some of the best creamy cold snow of the trip so far! What a way to end the trip.

And that was that - 14 days skied out of 14 - a new record for me given Lofoten's usually variable weather. Huge thanks to Ian, Mark, Leanne, Mike, Costin and Cedric for a top notch week, and thanks also to Lofoten Ski Lodge and all the Northern Alpine Guides crew!

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Lofoten 2019 - week 1

...and so it came to pass that for the 7th year running I found myself journeying North to the Lofoten Islands.

With an early flight North and time to kill on the drive out to our lodgings we stopped for a quick mini-tour on the way:

The official day 1 of the trip dawned cloudy and snowy with a middling forecast so we headed for a tree and gully option which gave 3 fun descents:

The forecast for day 2 was grim, but showed a chance of clearing in the late afternoon, so we did the touristy thing for the day and waited... sure enough at 5pm it dried up so we put skins on and headed up for a quick summit of ├śrntind before racing back for dinner:

The following day the forecast was calling for clear weather until 2pm, with snow inbound after that. With the damp weather of the previous day we needed a venue that would allow us to gain height quickly so headed to one of my tried and tested 'sure bets'. The snow had actually firmed up nicely and to top it off the weather held out far longer than expected so we skied 2 great laps in the North bowl and then the North East bowl, with a cheeky mini-gully to finish it off:

The forecast for the next few days was looking good so on Thursday we decided to go exploring out West - on the drive out to our initial objective another peak which I have looked at for years but never got around to skiing was looking good, so we diverted to that and had a great day with noone else around - no mean feat on one of the busier weeks of the Lofoten touring year:

On Friday we continued further West for the previous day's inital plan B - for once we actually shared the mountain with other skiers, but they were all skiing the West face, and we had the perfect spring snow of the South face all to ourselves!

The forecast was good again for team 1's last day, so we took a gamble and headed further West still to a peak I had previously visited some years ago. In contrast to the last visit where we had great spring snow low down and wind-blasted snow higher up this time the top shoulder was perfect corn snow, while the optional spicy exit gully was somewhat firm though still skiable although the way down to a deserted rocky cove looking back South West to the mainland...

A huge Thank You to Ryan, Alex, Ben, Ed and James for a top week of adventuring!